So you probably know by now that Mr. Ninj and I recently moved from Vermont to Kentucky (yes, it was a big move). What you might not know is that we originally thought we were moving to Pennsylvania (don't ask, long story) -- specifically, the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Yeah, not exactly Kentucky.
To that end, we started to spend a bit of time in the Philadelphia area, looking for potential places to live. During one visit, I went into a local grocery store chain and was confronted by a wall -- literally a WALL -- of orange and black boxes of cookies.
What the ... ?
Upon closer examination, they were all boxes of Ivins' Famous Spiced Wafers. Famous? Really? Famous where? Certainly not anywhere I had ever lived before (which is TEN different states, but who's counting?). Yet I was intrigued and, since they were cookies and cookies without high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list, I bought a box.
|Photo courtesy of beachpackagingdesign.com|
OK, OK, I bought three boxes.
And thank god I did! Mr. Ninj proclaimed them to be "the greatest ginger snap I have ever eaten in my life." Whhhaaattt???!!! High praise indeed! Of course, I took that as a personal challenge and started researching how I could make my own version of these gingery spicy cookies.
It turns out that Ivins really are famous -- well, around the greater Philadelphia area anyway. The cookies have been (and still area) made in the area since the 1960s and are only available during the fall months. For many kids growing up in the area, Ivins' wafers were their primary fall treat and are practically synonymous with Halloween.
Despite their famousness and popularity, Ivins Spicy Wafers are not available outside of Pennsylvania (roughly). Which I cannot understand, because these cookies are so freakin' good! Way more than a gingersnap (I've heard them called the "first cousin of a gingersnap"), Ivins' Spiced Wafers have a deeper flavor, due to the molasses and the addition of rich spices other than ginger and cinnamon. Plus, they are super crunchy, making them ideal for dunking in milk (or an afternoon chai tea latte, speaking from frequent experience).
So, rather than making an annual fall trip to Philadelphia to buy the wafers or paying an arm and a leg for a case of them on the Internet, I made my own. It took a couple of batches but I think I've nailed it -- and I base this on Mr. Ninj taste testing one of mine along with one of the Ivins' wafers from the boxes I bought and saying, "You nailed it!"
If you even remotely like gingersnaps, you are going to go completely cray cray for these cookies.
One word of caution: to get the full level of crunchiness, you must walk a fine line between baking and burning these cookies, so be sure to watch the oven like a hawk during the final minute or two of baking. Although Mr. Ninj even scarfed down the batch I had dubbed too burned (yeah, they're THAT good).
Having moved all over the country as much as I have, I know what it's like to have a special local food item from your old hometown that you can't get anymore -- and how much that absence make you dream about it and associate it with home. So I hope I've made some former kids of Philadelphia a little happier this fall with my ginger-molasses spice cookies, a copycat Ivins' spice wafer recipe.
Are you familiar with Irvins' wafers? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to hear from you!
Ginger-Molasses Spice Cookies (copycat Ivins' Famous Spice Wafers)Makes about 3 dozen cookies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a mixer, cream the butter, coconut oil and sugar on medium speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and molasses. Add all the remaining ingredients and blend well.
Drop the dough in 1-tablespoon-sized scoops on to a parchment-lined baking sheet (don't skip the parchment or you run a great risk of burning the bottoms) -- these cookies spread, so give them a decent amount of room. Bake for 13-16 minutes, letting them cook as long as you can without burning the edges (they will turn quite brown). Seriously: you want them as brown yet unburned as possible for maximum crunchiness.
Remove from oven and cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.